Thu, Feb 22, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Tehran pledges to press ahead with its nuclear program


Iran was set yesterday to ignore the latest UN deadline to suspend nuclear work as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pledged that the contentious atomic drive was vital for the nation's future.

Iran's continued defiance came the day after talks between the head of the UN nuclear watchdog and the top Iranian nuclear negotiator ended without any breakthrough in the long-running standoff.

"Achievement of nuclear energy is very important for the progress and development of our country," Ahmadinejad told a public rally in the town of Siahkal in Gilan Province, the ISNA agency said.

"It is worth it, even if we shut down other activities for 10 years and focus on this issue," said Ahmadinejad, without specifying which areas could be affected.

The deadline was set by the UN Security Council on Dec. 23 when it imposed its first ever sanctions against Tehran for failing to suspend uranium enrichment.

The council gave the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 60 days to report on whether Iran has imposed a "full and sustained suspension" of its uranium enrichment activities.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei is due to report to the council by tomorrow on Iran's compliance.

It is not clear what further penalties Iran could face for failing to obey the deadline.

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